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HMRC might offer another RTI reprieve

If you’re currently pulling your hair out trying to cope with the taxman’s new Real Time Information payroll programme, good news: you might get a reprieve.

There are a lot of contractors out there that have had to cope with the change-over to RTI, thanks to Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs transitioning to the new system this past April. Anyone who operates through a limited company has likely been affected; if you’re still struggling with the new system and worried about the initial deadline extension running out, you could be in for some relief from yet another extension!

Basically, the new reprieve goes like this: if you’ve got less than 50 employees – and as a freelancer it is, after all, just you – you’ve got until 14 April of next year to get your act together. Right now it’s just a proposal with comments and questions open until 17 August, but it’s more or less a lock that the taxman’s going to go through with his judging on the amount of panicked calls it’s been fielding from people tearing their hair out by the roots trying to cope with the new Real Time Information requirements.

This is absolutely good news for pretty much everyone who’s been annoyed at HMRC for changing over to a much more bureaucratic and tedious method of payroll. I can’t think of one person I know that works with payroll and was excited about the RTI change when it went live; most people simply breathed a sigh of relief when the first deadline extension went into effect, and now it’s even more of a relief to learn that you’ve essentially got an entire year to get your ducks all in a row.

Changing over to RTI requires you to use specialised payroll software that interfaces directly with HMRC. This isn’t such a big deal in and of itself – unless you’re a single-person outfit like most contractors and might not have the wherewithal to upgrade your payroll systems because, you know, you’re busy hustling to pay the mortgage and keep your kids fed.

I mean, for what it’s worth it seems excessive to have to contact the taxman each and every time you receive a pay cheque, doesn’t it? Actually RTI calls for the employer to submit tax information to HMRC before the employee is paid to be exact, which can make it even more of a pain – still, the taxman is convinced this will make everyone’s taxes much more accurate – in other words, they’ll get ore money out of people that are already being squeezed dry!

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